Many of you millennial-types are too young to remember the debates when Bill Clinton was running for office. People as old as I am can skip the next section, but I provide it for context.
“It’s the economy, stupid” is a slight variation of the phrase “The economy, stupid” which James Carville had coined as a campaign strategist of Bill Clinton‘s successful 1992 presidential campaign against sitting president George H. W. Bush. (See the Wikipedia article on the topic)
It was the phrase leveraged by Bill Clinton’s campaign to unseat George H.W. Bush and it came down to the idea that the slowing economy was all that mattered. The plan was simple, state that George H.W. Bush would keep things the same, say “it’s the economy, stupid” and point out that no change would keep hurting the economy, then promise health care. He used it over and over on any number of topics.
With Jeremy Runnell’s excommunication I see a battery of apologists taking to the field arguing a very similar topic. I’m going to sum it up as”
“It’s the members, stupid”
They blame the members, including Jeremy for not reading their books, or not researching enough, or not having the drive to do independent research. Always their tone is condescending, not just to Jeremy, but to any of the foolish members not dropping $80 a book on their personal theories.
And yet they all are missing the point entirely, especially from the faithful perspective. Remember who said you can buy answers (Well, “anything in this world” but that includes answers) with money?
Instead, Jeremy Runnells demanded answers from “True messengers”. He wanted answers from the Church Education system, or from a Stake President, or from some official source.
As he said to the Stake President:
My experience with President Ivins, unfortunately, the past year and a half, is that he has never answered my questions. Not a single question.
I have asked you 3 questions over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over. 20 times. And the specific questions that I asked is
“What error or mistakes in the CES Letter, or on the website, is incorrect so I can publicly correct it?”
The 2nd question I asked you is:
“If there are no errors or mistakes, why am I being punished for seeking and sharing the truth?”
And the 3rd question I asked you is:
“What question am I being punished for?”
And you have not answered a single one of them. Can I ask you why you are not answering them?
Of course that question wasn’t answered at all, either. But the Apologists, historians and self-proclaimed understanders of the gospel ignore that the handbook actually demands that leaders give answers and correction before excommunicating a member to point out how lost and mistaken poor Jeremy’s questions are.
Let me be perfectly clear. The Stake President violated the handbook in more ways than one, he ignored his duty, refused to answer a person who was seeking council and guidance, and the various “experts” entirely ignore this to focus on how stupid the members are.
If you want to know why membership is falling and missionary success is dwindling, you need look no further than the idea that a church promises it has the answers to life’s questions, refuses to answer questions and then blames the people for asking them.
Shame. Shame on everyone who says it is Jeremy’s fault, and doesn’t call out leaders for not leading, prophets for not prophesying, revelators for failing to reveal, and seers for being blind.
I propose a very different answer. The member, they are not stupid. they are realizing they are getting a bad deal. I know Jeremy, he’s a bright fellow. He put some long hours in on that CES letter and printed corrections on what he was wrong about. Why is the church shrinking?
It’s the members, they’re not stupid
A list of websites blaming the members:
What We Should Learn from Jeremy Runnells: Some Thoughts on His Departure From the Church
And again here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2016/04/ces-letter-author-jeremy-runnells-to-face-disciplinary-action-the-non-scandal.html
Beautiful job. Very, very well done!. For me, I’d rather “The Church” simply come out and admit that much of the mythology of church history which we have been fed for decades is simply not true. Of course I know that never will (and perhaps can’t) but surely they must be aware of the incredible awakening that’s happening throughout the ranks – people are waking up and realizing that it just doesn’t all add up.
The church has had it both ways for so long. They could publicly say they’re inclusive, transparent, and embody the “fulness of truth,” while actively excluding, obfuscating, and running away from historical facts.
We’re no longer isolated from one another (thanks internet) and that has made all the difference.